Topical & Wet Look Concrete Sealer

  • June 13, 2020
  • / By Dale Keese
wet look concrete sealer

Topical sealers (surface coatings) are those that sit on the surface without penetrating it. They form a protective coating or film which gets fixed to the top of the concrete surface without any chemical reaction occurring between the sealer and the surface. Topical concrete sealers can help protect your concrete surface from water and oil stains and also damage caused by foot traffic.

Our pick for the best wet look concrete sealer is the Foundation Armor AR350 Wet Look Concrete Sealer due to its ease of application and ability to reduce surface abrasion and deterioration. It lasts up to 3 years on exterior surfaces and up to 7 years on interior surfaces.

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Best Wet Look Concrete Sealer

A wet look concrete sealer is essentially a topical sealer that gives the concrete surface a high gloss, decorative and “wet-look” finish. A wet-look sealer helps to protect, as well as beautify all types of concrete surfaces, decorative concrete surfaces, pavers, natural stone, exposed aggregate and porous tiles. It is ideal for use on both indoor, as well as outdoor surfaces.

However, since the topical concrete sealer is only on the top of the surface, the inside of the material will not be protected. Although the topical sealer protects your concrete surface from damage caused by foot traffic, it shows scratches, scuff marks, and abrasions especially in areas with high traffic because this concrete sealer is softer.

Generally, topical sealers or coatings change the texture of the surface that they are applied to. They reduce the traction, i.e., the surface becomes slippery when it is wet and you may need to add a non-slip additive if you are using a topical concrete sealer in areas like kitchens and bathrooms. Topical concrete sealers also change the appearance of the surface by adding color or gloss (i.e., low-gloss, high-gloss, matte, or satin finish) to the surface.

Topical concrete sealers not only protect the concrete surface from stains and chemicals but also visually enhance the surface. However, to be fixed properly, topical concrete sealers need to be applied on a clean and dry surface. But, because topical sealers find it difficult to bond with smooth surfaces, they must not be applied on polished surfaces.

Always choose a high-quality topical sealer, because lower-grade concrete sealers can turn yellow, especially when exposed to sunlight. Also, topical concrete sealers are not breathable, which causes moisture and water to be trapped within the surface and this can cause damage such as efflorescence, peeling, flaking, spalling, or cracking of the concrete surface.

Generally, topical concrete sealers are made from polyurethane or acrylic polymers and can be either water- or solvent-based. They are usually not very expensive as well. The life of topical sealers is general around 1 to 5 years, although urethane and epoxy sealers can last much longer. This concrete sealer is extremely simple to apply; however, since it is only on the surface of the concrete, it experiences more wear and need more maintenance and also need to be reapplied more often compared to penetrating concrete sealers.

The build-up of the topical sealer on the concrete surface will cause the scrapes and scuff marks to show more easily and will also make the surface look like plastic or wax. And so, before every new application, the concrete sealer must be stripped off to prevent build up. While some of concrete sealers can be removed easily using a stripper, other concrete sealers made from epoxy and polyurethane polymers are more permanent and are difficult to remove.

  • Concrete surfaces, decorative concrete surfaces, masonry surfaces, natural stone, flagstone, exposed aggregate and porous tile
  • Pavers, stucco and artificial stone
  • Interior floors, patios and driveways
  • As a topcoat over stains and paints

A topical or wet-look sealer can be used as a standalone decorative product or as a seal or cure. When choosing the wet-look sealer, you must ensure that it is breathable, UV stable, VOC friendly and will not turn yellow in the long run. The wet-look sealer will add a glossy “wet look” and enhance the finish of the decorative concrete surface while protecting it from sun, rain and salt. It shouldn’t scuff, scratch and be durable without the risk of delamination.

Application

It is extremely important that when you are using a topical/wet look concrete sealer you should apply the sealer to a very small portion of the surface and test the sealer and verify if you’re satisfied with the sealed appearance of the concrete surface. Another important thing to remember is that you must not shake the container before the application or the sealer will form bubbles.

The concrete surface that you’re planning to seal must be free of dirt, grease, oil, wax, efflorescence and old sealer or paint. If acid has been used earlier on the concrete surface, then the surface should be neutralized first and the surface should be allowed to dry completely before applying the wet-look sealer. If the concrete surface has been washed with water or is wet from rain, then the surface should be allowed to dry for at least 72 hours before sealing.

Apply 2 coats of sealer or more as required; however, you must not let it puddle. Ensure that before you apply each coat, the earlier coat is dry to the touch, which usually takes around 1 to 3 hours. In case of a moist, humid climate, let the coat dry for a longer time.

Depending on the texture and porosity of the concrete surface, you can apply the wet-look sealer with a brush, spray equipment or an applicator made of lamb’s wool. Apply the sealer when the temperature is between 55oF and 80oF. Let the sealer cure for around 72 hours to protect against bulk water and heavy moisture. For up to 72 hours after application of the sealer until it cures, avoid heavy usage and also do not allow the sealer to freeze. The sealer will keep gaining strength for up to 1 week after application.

If you are using the wet-look sealer for interior surfaces, then using a floor polish (matte or gloss) on the sealer surface will help to add resistance to abrasion due to foot traffic and also extend the sealer’s life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is wet look concrete sealer slippery?

Wet look concrete sealer can affect the surface profile of the concrete surface it is applied to and can make it slippery, especially when it is wet. You can use anti-skid or grit additives to the wet-look sealer to ensure more surface traction, which in turn, helps to reduce the slipperiness of the concrete surface.

Often, materials like silica sand, mineral-based aggregates or crumb rubber are used as grit additives in sealers. However, these are usually used in thicker types of coatings and tend to change the texture and appearance of the concrete surface and since the aesthetics of decorative concrete surfaces is critical, using invisible grit additives is important.

You can use grit additives that are made of micronized polypropylene, which is essentially ground-up plastic. The micronized polypropylene offers a unique texture and even particle size. The shape and size offer a smoother feel to the sealed surface, while also reducing the slipperiness, especially when the surface is wet.

How much wet look concrete sealer will you need?

Once you decide on the type of wet-look sealer for the concrete surface you want to seal, you need to then decide on how much sealer you need. Typically, the coverage rate for the sealer is calculated in square feet. For instance, if the product has a coverage rate of around 500 sq. ft. per gallon and the area of your project is around 1,000 sq. ft. Then, the amount of sealer required is around 1,000 sq. ft/500 = 2 gallons.

On an average, a 5-gallon pail of wet-look sealer will cover around 500 sq. ft. in 2 coats. However, this will depend on the roughness and the porosity of the concrete surface you’re sealing.

How long does wet look concrete sealer take to dry?

The higher the humidity and the cooler the temperature, the longer the wet-look sealer will take to dry. You must allow the wet-look sealer to dry for at least 24 hours before you let light foot traffic on the surface. For the surface to take heavy foot traffic or if you want to reposition your furniture, then you must allow the sealer to dry for at least 72 hours. And if you want to park your vehicle on the sealed surface, you should use corrugated cardboard to park the tires for at least 14 days. You can clean the surface coated with a wet-look sealer with a mild and non-abrasive detergent after 30 days.

How long does wet-look sealer last on concrete?

Wet-look sealers do not penetrate into the concrete and sit on the surface and face a higher risk of wear and UV degradation and hence, they have the shortest longevity. You have water-based, as well as, solvent-based wet-look sealers and the product will last on the concrete surface depending on the type of sealer you use. Wet-look sealers can last from 6 months up to 3 years. And solvent-based sealers last much longer compared to water-based sealers.

Typically, in a perfect environment, a wet-look sealer of higher quality will easily outlast a cheaper sealer by up to 1 year; however, in some cases, the sealer quality does not really matter. For instance, if you have applied different brands or wet-look sealers for a few years and by the end of the season all of them fail, then the problem could lie with the concrete surface. It could be various factors such as the pH, moisture or some factor that is causing the sealer to fail, in which case, any wet-look sealer you use, it will have the same life and if you want the sealer to last longer, then you could consider using a penetrating wet-look sealer instead of a topical one.

And, if you want to maintain the same level of wet look, you can seal your concrete surface once every 1 to 2 years. Resealing using a solvent-based wet-look sealer is very easy. All you need to do is put a fresh coat of sealer on a dry and clean surface. There is no need to sand or scuff the surface when using a solvent-based wet-look sealer.

Can wet look concrete sealer be removed?

Removing the wet-look sealer depends on whether the sealer is water based or solvent based. To remove the sealer properly, you must determine the type of sealer that was applied initially. If you already know what type of sealer was used, then you can skip this process; however, if you don’t know the type of sealer used, then to determine if the sealer was water-based or solvent-based, do the following:

  • Pour some Xylene on a small area and let it sit for around 20 seconds. Touch the area. If you find that the area is sticky or tacky, it means that the surface has been sealed with a solvent-based sealer. If the area is not sticky or tacky to touch, then a water-based sealer was used.
  • To remove a solvent-based wet-look sealer, begin by removing any portions that are flaking or peeling. Use a stripper such as xylene to remove the solvent-based stripper. (In case of stained or dyed concrete, using xylene can change the color or damage the concrete.) Then, pressure wash the concrete surface and let it dry completely before resealing.
  • You can remove a water-based wet-look concrete sealer by mechanical scarification, chemical etching or aggressive pressure washing. You could first try pressure washing and removing the sealer instead of chemically etching or stripping it. Pressure washing works best if the concrete sealer is very old and almost completely worn away.

About the Author

Hey guys, thanks for reading.. hopefully this article can save you some time and trouble with your sealing job. I'm also in the process of making some video walk-throughs for youtube so check back soon! thanks

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